When I narrowly* lost the West Shoebury local council election in May 2014, only the victor — UKIP’s James Moyies — gave a speech. As he came down at the end of it, he came up to me and asked why I hadn’t given a speech myself. He was worried that I had, in effect, no platformed him.
The truth was that this was my first time at a Southend election count, and I didn’t realise that anyone but the winning candidate gave a speech. Naivety, basically, and I told the new Cllr Moyies as much.
It is in this light that I am very disappointed to see that Southend Against the Cuts have decided to exclude UKIP from their general election hustings.
Well that mystery didn’t last, did it?
On Thursday, in the wake of the announcement that Floyd Waterworth (Who? – Ed) would be standing for UKIP in the Rochford & Southend East constituency, I posed the question of whether James Moyies had a) wanted to win the selection and lost, or b) had his eye on somewhere else.
Now, thanks to the excellent blog-based sleuthing of my good friend Julian Ware-Lane, that question has been answered. James Moyies did indeed want to be the UKIP candidate for the constituency, and therefore we can only conclude that he failed to convince local party members that he was the man for the job.
Late last night, some strange rumours found their way to me in the pub. A little unlikely, to my mind, but this morning apparently confirmed by the Echo. UKIP have selected their candidate for Rochford & Southend East in the general election next year.
They have selected one of Southend’s ‘invisible kippers’: Floyd Waterworth, the recently elected councillor for Blenheim Park ward.
If I’m honest, this is pretty surprising. Not just because UKIP have selected an unknown in a seat where they have previously indicated that they fancy their chances. It is more because I, and most of the local political scene, had expected that this particular nomination would go to UKIP’s group leader on Southend Borough Council, James Moyies.
Earlier this week the news broke, that Rochford & Southend East’s MP James Duddridge claimed £11,000 in the last year on accomodation costs. This was, apparently, split between renting a flat and hotel bills. Except, James Duddridge not only lives within an hour’s train journey of London, but he owns two flats in the capital, which he rents out.
Since then I’ve been trying in vain to get a response out of Mr Duddridge. He is happy to tweet insipid lines-to-take straight from CCHQ. But answering constituents’ questions? Not so much.
Fortunately Ian Gilbert, the Labour candidate for Rochford & Southend East, has had the fortitude to actually say something on this matter: Ian has promised that, if elected as the constituency’s new MP, he won’t claim accommodation expenses.
With Labour candidates now in place for the 2015 election campaign in both Southend seats (Ian Gilbert well-established in Rochford & Southend East, and the newly-selected Julian Ware-Lane in Southend West), one would well expect politicians on the other side to have had their say.
The Tory blogs are, thusfar, silent. Nigel Holdcroft, to be fair, has put himself on hiatus until September; hard to begdrudge, for the holiday season (Though this parish managed to give the appearance of life, despite its writer being in a field in Devon the past week – Ed). Tony Cox, sorry “Shoebury Blogger”, has been equally silent. And Mark Flewitt clearly prefers the sound of his own incoherent ramblings to anything meaningful or relevant.
So then to the “others”, which really means the Lib Dems’ sole voice online, Neil Monnery. Neil thinks that Southend Labour have made a grave mistake, because both candidates are, er, good.
I am absolutely delighted to be able to report that yesterday the members of Southend West Constituency Labour Party chose my good friend (and fellow local politics blogger) Julian Ware-Lane as their candidate for next year’s general election.
For the past two years Julian has been representing Milton ward on Southend Borough Council, and has been one of the loudest cheerleaders for making Southend a better place to live, as well as one of the hardest working campaigners in the borough.
I think he’s a fantastic choice to take on David Amess, the sitting Tory MP. Like myself, Julian is a proponent of grassroots politics, and most weekends (and more than a few weekday evenings) will see him knocking on doors somewhere in the borough and discussing local (or national) issues with residents.
Southend desperately needs the change which Labour is offering in 2015; the rot of 14 years of Tory rule locally has already been stopped by Labour on the Council, but for Southend to truly prosper we need change in Westminster too. Julian Ware-Lane, along with Ian Gilbert as Labour candidate for Rochford & Southend East is the man to deliver that change.
I look forward to hitting the campaign trail with him in the months to come.